When Lightroom’s “Shadows” Slider Isn’t Enough…

This isn’t one of those tips that you’re going to use every day, but when you need it, it’s really an image-saver. It’s about bringing out shadow detail in a big way using a workaround that does take a few steps, but it’s super easy (after it all goes faster than you’d think). Here’s what we’re doing:



STEP ONE: Here’s the original image. The area in the foreground is pretty dark, so to open up that area, we reach for the Shadows slider.


STEP TWO: Here I cranked the Shadows slider all the way to +100, and it helped a little bit, but not nearly as much as I wanted. Kind of makes you miss the old Fill Light slider from back in Lightroom 3. While the underlying math behind it wasn’t nearly as good as the results we normally get from the Shadows slider in Lightroom 5, that old Fill Light slider would have opened these shadows up big time. If only there were a way to get that Fill Light slider back? 😉


STEP THREE: Make any other changes you want to this image and finish it off how you’d like it, then export this image (as a JPEG, TIFF, whatever you like) by pressing Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E) to bring up the Export window you see above.


STEP FOUR: Reimport this edited photo in Lightroom (as seen above).


STEP FIVE: In the Develop Module, go to the Camera Calibration panel and at the top where it says “Process” it will say 2012 (Current) which means you’re using the “new math” introduced in Lightroom 4. Click on that pop-up menu and choose 2010 to get the “old math” from back in Lightroom 3.


STEP SIX: Now scroll back up to the Basic panel and son-of-a-gun look at that — the old “Fill Light” slider from Lightroom 4 is back!!!! Drag that sucker over to the right (here I only dragged over to +53 and look at the difference! Again, this isn’t one you’re going to use every day, but when you really, really need those shadows opened up, it does the trick fast. Just a reminder: Do all your other edits before you save that JPEG and switch to the 2010 math, because the ‘new math” from 2012 is so much better overall, but at least it’s nice to know we can “go back in time” if we need to and our old friend “Fill Light” is still here. A before/after is shown below.


Hope you find that helpful (every once in a while). 🙂



P.S. Later today I’ll be announcing the 5 winners for the Jay Maisel book giveaway, so check back this afternoon 🙂